Wowsers! Ancestry Fixed My ThruLines

Last Sunday I gave feedback to Ancestry on my ThruLines. As I was writing the feedback message I realized it might be good material for a blog post. At the end of the feedback message, I let them know I might use it in a post.

Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines sat around in my drafts until Wednesday. I took a few moments to check my ThruLines as I’ve done every few days since they came out – getting more and more irritated.

Wowsers! Those ugly grrr!! images I’d added to my great-grandfather’s step-mother and all of her ancestors are missing.

Could it be Ancestry took my feedback into consideration and got the step-relationships fixed? Had they been ready to roll out a fix before or after I sent my feedback? Does it matter? Well, yes, I would like to know why it happened so quickly following the feedback I gave. I want to know if this step relationship bug in the ThruLines was solved for everyone or just for me.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

I’m seeing Milla Susan PETERS as my great-great-grandmother. I’ve been hoping to see her ever since they gave me Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON, the 2nd wife of Gordon Washington ROOP, as a potential 2nd-great-grandmother showing half-cousins as full cousins.

Why, you ask, was I so excited about one ancestor being corrected? One right ancestor means I should be seeing her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in my ThruLines. All of these ancestors are from lines with many descendants who have had their DNA tested.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

Although Milla Susan’s ThruLines shows only two DNA matches, the next generations have many more matches:

  • 107 DNA matches through Jordan N. PETERS (father of Milla Susan)
  • 33 DNA matches through Rachel PROFFITT (mother of Milla Susan)
  • 68 DNA matches through Zachariah PETERS (father of Jordan)
  • 129 DNA matches through Kesiah LIVELY (mother of Jordan)
  • 113 DNA matches through David PROFFITT (father of Rachel)
  • 110 DNA matches through Sarah COCKRAM (mother of Rachel)
  • 123 DNA matches through Joseph LIVELY (father of Kesiah)
  • 128 DNA matches through Mary L. CASH (mother of Kesiah)
  • 97 DNA matches through Augustine “Austin” PROFFITT (father of David)
  • 97 DNA matches through Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON (mother of David)
  • 231 DNA matches through Edward COCKRAM (father of Sarah)
  • 232 DNA matches through Mary WORTHAM (mother of Sarah)

It’ll take time to confirm each match is a descendant of the ancestor he/she is listed under as the lines down are only as reliable as the trees ThruLines uses to make the connection. The large number of matches for the PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines was expected due to the families being large and having many descendants.

But wait! Not only was the step-relationship corrected for Milla Susan PETERS, but I am now seeing  <<drumroll>>

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as my 2nd great-grandparents. They’ve been missing from the ThruLines since they came out.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

William is my most frustrating brick wall. Sarah Ann’s branch and all matches associated with it are very important. I hope they will help me to sort out all the matches for her side.  This would leave only matches which will point to William’s unknown parents and ancestry. At least that is the way I believe it should work. ThruLines is showing potential parents for him which I cannot accept at this time.

Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestry is bringing in many matches which will also have to be verified.

  • 41 DNA matches through William A. W. DEMPSEY.
  • 45 DNA matches through Sarah Ann WOOD (wife of William A. W.)
  • 87 DNA matches through Elijah WOOD (father of Sarah Ann)
  • 93 DNA matches through Rachel HONAKER (mother of Sarah Ann)
  • 92 DNA matches through William WOOD (father of Elijah)
  • 90 DNA matches through Mary Ann McGRAW (mother of Elijah)
  • 162 DNA matches through Frederick HONAKER (father of Rachel)
  • 154 DNA matches through Rachel WISEMAN (mother of Rachel)
  • 70 DNA matches through Bailey WOOD (father of William)
  • 95 DNA matches through Nancy _____ (mother of William)
  • 147 DNA matches through Martin McGRAW (father of Mary Ann)
  • 109 DNA matches through Margaret “Polly” _____ (mother of Mary Ann)
  • 173 DNA matches through Hans Jacob HONEGGER (father of Frederick)
  • 30 DNA matches through Maria GOETZ (mother of Frederick)
  • 202 DNA matches through Isaac WISEMAN (father of Rachel)
  • 204 DNA matches through Elizabeth DAVIS (mother of Rachel)

Another New Feature

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

ThruLines are now connected to the tree linked to a DNA test. On the pedigree view of the tree, there is now a DNA symbol in on the left to turn on this feature which adds a little blue ThruLines icon next to the ancestors’ names. William, Sarah, and Milla are ThruLines ancestors but in the pedigree view above they haven’t been updated. I discovered this about the same time my ThruLines were fixed on Wednesday.

Did the feedback I sent on Sunday to Ancestry on the ThruLines help them to get this fixed? I will likely never know. But I believe this was a lesson in giving the best feedback possible to help the team to get ThruLines working correctly. As I wrote in my feedback to them, ThruLines could be a powerful tool.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines

This is the first of two posts on Ancestry‘s ThruLines regarding an issue I have had with the new feature.

Access to ThruLines Beta is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

Unfortunately, hundreds of user trees on Ancestry cannot be taken into account when building ThruLines. The Legal Genealogist went ballistic last Saturday and wrote How do we know? It’s an excellent post with an example of a user tree which cannot be taken seriously. Judy G. Russell recognized the errors in the tree but can a computer program do the same? I think not.

This is not meant to provoke negative comments concerning Ancestry and the features offered by them. This is about giving feedback concerning a known problem in hopes of getting positive results.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dear Ancestry,

I have given feedback several times before [concerning the reason I am not satisfied with ThruLines] and will try to be more detailed as there is a bug in the system which has not been fixed.

I realize, at this time, ThruLines is a free tool on AncestryDNA. However, your long-time customers’ experience in family history research should be taken into account. We can work together to get this fixed.

The problem is a known bug in the system as other users have complained about it on social media. Some users who gave feedback say their ThruLines were “fixed” within days. I do not believe Ancestry has taken the step to go into one user’s ThruLines to fix this bug. I strongly believe it was a coincidence the users’ ThruLines were corrected after feedback. It is more likely another user’s tree, which was being used to build the connection between the ancestor and the match, had been corrected and this resolved the issue.

This is the issue I have with ThruLines’ “step bug”

I am seeing a step-parent as the parent in the ThruLines. The information is correct in my tree. No other tree is being used to create this ThruLines ancestor. Along with this step-parent, I am seeing all of her ancestors, unrelated to my line, as my ancestors in ThruLines. Not as POTENTIAL ancestors with a dotted borders – they are being shown as ANCESTORS.

  1. The ancestor who is showing up incorrectly in ThruLines is:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. The pedigree of the incorrect person in my tree:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I’ve added images to her ancestors showing they are NOT the ancestors of the home person and/or test person. [This is so that I can quickly recognize them on ThruLines.]

  1. This is her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather, in my tree. His information is correct and includes his two wives and their respective children:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. This is the pedigree of his first wife, my 2nd great-grandmother, who along with all of her ancestors are NOT showing up in my Thrulines. There are many DNA matches for people who descend from her PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines, on the match list, but they are being ignored by ThruLines.
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I want to stress that ONLY entries in my tree are being used for this (incorrect) ThruLines ancestor. No other user tree is being used to make this connection between the half-cousin matches whose relationship is incorrectly calculated to full cousins.

I understand the idea of ThruLines and believe it could be a powerful tool. One problem will always be the hundreds of trees which are incorrect due to sloppy research, i.e. accepting hints without looking at dates, places, names, etc.

However, in this case, the tree being used is correct and ThruLines is overriding my information and picking the wrong person in the tree. I have no experience in programming. I can only tell you where I am seeing the bug. I’m fully aware of the fact that detecting the source of the bug may be more difficult.

Thank you for your time. In hopes of a quick resolution to this problem,

Best wishes,
Cathy


I wrote the above last Sunday but didn’t want to post it on my blog without giving Ancestry had a bit more time to fix the issue.  This was the first time I included links to the specific areas where the “bug” was detected. Will this kind of feedback help resolve the issue I have with Ancestry‘s ThruLines?

Don’t miss part two tomorrow.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Gathering Records to Tell the Story – An Update

Less than two hours after I posted Gathering Records to Tell the Story in late February my fourth cousin Ralph L. Hayes sent emails with images of the Chancery records for the 1864 divorce of John William CLONCH and Sarah Jane FOSTER – records which are not online.

Cousin Bait!

I was surprised and happy to finally see the records he had discovered years ago when he searched through old dusty unindexed boxes at the courthouse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

In Gathering Records to Tell the Story, I shared the entry in the court records concerning the divorce of my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH from his first wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER. I’d only recently found this record and could not wait to share with my cousins who descend from the CLONCH line.

By sharing what I’d found I may have been subconsciously baiting cousins. Don’t we do this all the time? Sharing bits and pieces in hopes of a relative coming forward with new information. I wasn’t expecting Ralph to message me via Facebook so soon after I’d published the post. We hadn’t done email in 15 years but have been keeping up with each other via Facebook for 10 years.

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. Many residents of Mason County crossed the Ohio River and state line to marry in Gallia. If Sarah Jane carried her first child to full term, she may have been with child when they married. Their son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862. A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born to John and Sarah. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

I found a couple of entries in the Chancery orders and in a fee book concerning the divorce in 1864 when I located my ancestor Alex’s 1880 divorce records. My mentioning the 1864 documents in Ralph’s possession were not yet online pushed him to get in touch and email them to me.

In the meantime…

I’ve been a bit slow working on the documents as other things have kept me busy during the past few weeks.

I watched several of the 2019 RootsTech live sessions and got caught up in the DNA whirlwind caused by Ancestry and MyHeritage’s new tools. I’ve used up all 24 of the colors offered for grouping matches in the New & Improved DNA Matches (Beta). I’ve played with MyTreeTags on the small tree linked to the test I manage on Ancestry and found they are an excellent new tool for tree management. ThruLines is still aggravating me. They have a known problem with step-parents being considered as the ancestor. MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity did not take long to look at as only 29 matches were offered. Several were spot-on. Several were not. Their AutoClustering was a bit disappointing as I was already spoiled by Jonathan Brecher and his Shared Clustering tool.

Ralph said, “Go for it!” In the days to come, I’ll share the transcriptions of the records he sent from the chancery case Sarah Jane Clonch vs John W. Clonch.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

ThruLines™ Introduced by Ancestry: TrueLines or TrueLies?

Last week was an exciting week for many genealogists who attended the RootsTech conference or, like me, who followed the live stream from home. My interest was focused on DNA related news. Ancestry added MyTreeTags™, New & Improved DNA Matches, and ThruLines™ to their site. The most talked about is ThruLines™ which is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

I found a few things about ThruLines™ which were helpful but there was something which upset me so much that I stopped checking. I took a few days to calm down before I gave feedback to Ancestry on their new ThruLines™ tool. First the good and the bad, then my feedback.

TrueLines or TrueLies?

There are several reasons for my snarky title. I may know and you may know that ThruLines™ is not the same as true lines or true lies. But do all users, especially those who are very new to family history research, realize this new feature is like the Ancestry Hints and Shared Ancestors Hints? It isn’t a fast and easy fix. We still need to do research.

The Positive

ThruLines™ has helped me to find two cousins descended from my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM’s half-sister Ocie Ola INGRAM. Ocie has been ignored by many in their trees. The marriage of her mother to my great-great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM took place in 1888 and no 1900 census listing has been found to show the family group. As far as we know, they had only this one daughter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1904. I have tried to follow Ocie’s children and grandchildren but I would probably not have found these DNA cousins without looking through thousands of matches. ThruLines™ pulled them right up and with the correct connection even though the matches did not have public trees back to the INGRAM common ancestor.

I’m now seeing 63 of my 64 maternal 5th great-grandparents in the ThruLines™. The missing ancestor, Gerard MALAMBRE, was found in other trees with a different surname spelling. It wasn’t a surprise to find all maternal ancestors except this one listed. Not many people who have worked on these lines have their trees on Ancestry. I have very few maternal matches, mostly 5c and 6C, from clusters of descendants of a few immigrant families in America.

The Negative

Ancestry’s New & Improved DNA Matches and ThruLines™ are ignoring my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as the parents of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY. In the case of this family line, ThruLines™ resembles quick & dirty tree work which shouldn’t be public or searchable unless it has been proven.

Don’t get me wrong. They haven’t changed my tree. People who are new to genealogy research and those who do not know how to use this tool will take this seriously. They will accept these errors without bothering to verify.

Screenshot of Common Ancestors of a match on AncestryDNA. According to Ancestry family trees, these are common ancestors.

The white boxes are actual entries in my tree while the dashed boxes are from information they have knitted in from other trees. The third cousin match has a private tree which likely includes William A. W. DEMPSEY as he is showing up on the match’s side. Why, if we both have this name in our trees, does the common ancestor show up as a Private person three generations further back? Why not William A. W. DEMPSEY?

ThruLines™ shows Emmanuel DEMPSEY of Logan County, West Virginia, as the father of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY and this is reflected in the Common Ancestor match above.

I was hoping this new feature would help with my great-grandfather’s father William A. W. DEMPSEY’s brick wall. I was able to get the error above fixed. A person with a large tree likely accepted a Potential Father and Potential Mother and attached the wrong parents to my great-grandfather. The owner is not a direct descendant. The tree is so large I could not figure out how or if he is related.

I placed a comment on the tree with the wrong father for William Henderson DEMPSEY. The tree owner was quick to thank me for the help. He unlinked him and added the correct parents. There are still a few issues which I have further commented on. The owner appears to be willing to work on fixing his tree.

In ThruLines™ Emanuel DEMPSEY, his parents James DEMPSEY and Dorcas HAGER, his grandparents John DEMPSEY and Rachel SOLOMON, as well as the HAGER and VANNATER grandparents, have disappeared as potential ancestors. On a positive note, I was surprised to see this happen overnight.

I’m very disappointed I’m not seeing my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as ancestors. There are hundreds of matches who descend from Sarah’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (WOOD, McGRAW, HONAKER, HONEGGER, WISEMAN, and DAVIS) and they are not being found with the ThruLines™ tool. Matches I need to sift out of the rest to be able to find fourth cousins who descend from William’s unknown parents or more distant cousins who descend from his parents’ ancestors.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

This is not the only 2nd great-grandparent who is missing. My Gordon Washington ROOP was married twice and there are DNA matches coming from both wives. However, ThruLines™ is only recognizing his second wife, the step-mother of my great-grandfather Walter Farmer ROOP. This means I have the wrong potential 3rd, 4th, and 5th great-grandparents. Once again this is a branch of the family which has hundreds of matches, descendants of PETERS, LIVELY, CASH, PROFFITT, ROBERTSON, and COCKRAM. The branch and all other matches are missing. Yes, they are still there but difficult to ferret out.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

What I Am Doing to Make this a Good Experience

This could be a good feature when used correctly. When we find cousins who are DNA matches and fit into our tree we cannot accept the connection without following the records to prove the relationship. I’m worried about the people who accept shaky leaves, potential parents, and now a line back to a potential common ancestor using 2, 3, or 4 trees. I don’t want to throw away the good with the bad. I’ll take a close look at each ancestor and the matches they are supposedly coming from.

I’ve had a public tree with only ancestors linked to the DNA test I manage. I don’t have any other public tree on Ancestry. In the past days, I’ve added known and proven matches to fix some ancestors on the ThruLines.

It’s strange that the lines with the most descendants are not showing up correctly. I’m hoping this might turn out to be more positive – with people cleaning up their trees so that the correct connections get noticed.

My Feedback to Ancestry

  •  I’m finding ThruLines useful in that it pulls up distant matches which would not have been found due to the thousands of matches which are impossible to sift through.
  •  I would not say that it adds value to my Ancestry experience. It only reminds me of the many errors in trees. Mine is not perfect and the reason I  attached a public tree to DNA with only ancestors. In hopes this will help improve ThruLines, I have started to add the siblings of ancestors with DNA connections and the descendants who are DNA matches.
  • Since the public tree I’m using is based on well-researched work on my part, I hope it is being managed appropriately by Ancestry and not being used to suggest false potential ancestors as I am seeing up to 4 different trees are being used to show a line down from a potential to a match.
  • I DO NOT want a quick and easy way to add an ancestor or a match to my tree or anyone else’s tree. I believe people should take time to analyze and then add to the tree. Any trees with quick & dirty work should be made private and unsearchable.
  • I strongly disagree that having a common ancestor with a match is proof that the DNA is coming from this ancestor. The only way this can be proven is by using a chromosome browser for comparing with other matches with the common ancestor.
  • Although I am not overall happy with ThruLines at this early time, I strongly agree that we should check back often as more people take the test.

Final Thoughts

New & Improved DNA Matches gives us the ability to sort matches using colored groups. MyTreeTagsTM should help eliminate the need for strange ancestor names and keep our research and connections to new matches more organized. The lists of matches who descend from common ancestors seen in ThruLines™ will help both our research and proving of ancestors.

Will all the hoopla about these recent additions to the Ancestry experience distract us from the lack of a chromosome browser? Perhaps for a while but I’m still referring matches to my Dear Cousin post.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Returning to Blogging in the New Year – Refreshed and Excited

The definition of taking a break is interrupting one’s activity briefly. When I went into hiatus the end of October I didn’t expect it to be over two months before I would come back to blogging.

I was touched by the people who reached out to me while I was missing in action. Several messaged me directly to find out if all was well. From my young 3C1R Luella who I’ve known nearly two decades to my #1 reader/commenter/blogger Amy to my follower from Brazil whose ancestors lived in the same village as my ancestors.

All were worried. They didn’t know I’d fallen into a rabbit hole, spinning down winding double helix strands carrying our DNA. It took me a while to gain my orientation and find the even more twisted ladder out of the hole.

Who’s Fault Was It?

 

Blaine T. Bettinger shared my post How DNA Results Helped Discover Luxembourg Emigrants in the Facebook group Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques.

Great blog post about how the DNA Match Labeling extension for Chrome helped solve a genealogical mystery! Genetic networks and clustering tools are the future of DNA evidence!

I had no idea I was even on Blaine’s radar and it explained a spike in traffic on my blog during the week following the post. Being noticed by Blaine was fantastic.

Even more incredible was the help I received from a member of the Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques group.  Jonathan Brecher sent a message offering to run a Shared Clustering tool he has developed on the AncestryDNA test I manage to help me tickle out the maternal matches.

Shared Clustering

As mentioned in the above post [over two months ago] maternal matches are few and far between as that side of my family tree is Luxembourgish with a few branches which reach into France and Germany during the periods of time when the area belonged to Luxembourg.

Jonathan’s tool is not yet available to the public. He sent a CSV file with the heat map of my matches and a list of the clusters in text format. He paid special attention to my starred matches as these were the ones I had already been able to identify as maternal.

The heat map generated 66 clusters. Four of these are for maternal matches while 61 are for paternal. One cluster remains unknown at this time but looks more paternal than maternal.

The number of matches in each cluster varies greatly. There are a dozen clusters with only 2-10 matches, 33 between 11-100, 11 between 101-200, 4 between 201-400, 5 between 401-500, and one with 705!

I pinned down the fourth maternal cluster this past week – when I was supposed to be working on this post. I felt the pull of that rabbit hole, again, and checked each match and their trees until I found the connection. They descend from immigrants, two BAUSTERT brothers who were great-grandsons of my 5th great-grandparents Matthias SCHRAMEN and Anna Barbara LEIBRICH (BURG) of Ferschweiler, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Did the Baustert brothers know their 1C1R Nicholas SCHRAMEN had emigrated about 20 years earlier and originally settled in Iowa where they were also found?

What I’ve Been Working On

As the CSV file Jonathan sent included my notes, the paternal clusters were easily identified as coming from one of the four paternal grandparents’ branches. Some could even be associated with specific branches of a grandparent’s ancestral line.

I’ve been amending my notes on AncestryDNA to reflect the cluster number as well as a surname and possible generation. The cluster numbers are only for reference and make it easier to sort them on the AncestryDNA page using the Chrome extension AncestryDNA Helper or in Genome Mate Pro when sorting the MRCA (most recent common ancestors) notes.

Cluster 40 with 13 matches is labeled GROELINGER-MERGEN(6) as the MRCA have been identified as my 4th great-grandparents (6 generations back) Johann GROELINGER and Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN. Six of the 13 matches have been identified as descendants of this couple. I’ve sent messages and am waiting for replies.

Once the notes have been fixed on AncestryDNA, I move all matches for a cluster over to Genome Mate Pro (GMP) using another Chrome extension, Pedigree Thief (collects the match information, notes, and the shared matches). When the matches are in GMP, I begin adding the matches’ trees once again with the Pedigree Thief which reads the pedigree view of the tree and converts it to an Ahnentafel chart. GMP has a very steep learning curve and I’m still trying to assimilate and grasp the abilities of the program.

I’ve developed a routine and am slowly getting matches which have been associated with a cluster entered into GMP. Nearly half of the clusters, the smallest, have been added. The larger clusters remain to be done and I’ll be spacing them out a bit. And of course, as new matches are found on Gedmatch Genesis, FTDNA, and MyHeritage they are also added to Genome Mate Pro.

I still feel the pull of the rabbit hole but I won’t let it get in the way of my returning to a regular blogging schedule.


© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Rocking the Shared Matches on AncestryDNA

This year I planned on spending more time working with my brother’s AncestryDNA results and sharing discoveries here but…

The census analysis I’m doing for James SIMS and his sixteen (16) children for the Rewriting the Biography series is taking a lot more time than I had expected. I normally give myself a break the day after a post is published to look over new matches on AncestryDNA. OK, I admit I find myself checking more often than the day following a post.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about the 6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison and How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes. Since writing those posts not much has changed with the content of the notes or how I use them. But there is one neat Chrome extension I can no longer do without – and I hadn’t heard about it when I wrote the posts in 2016.

A Time-Saving Chrome Extension

MedBetterDNA has an option you can check to “always show Notes” of your matches on AncestryDNA (see link at the end of this post for more information about this extension). All notes made for matches will show on the page you are viewing without your having to click each to open them. You see all your notes! And this simple trick is helping me to feel like a DNA rock star!

Take this match, for example. When she first turned up there was no tree linked to the DNA. She had a public tree which was viewable but it did not have a paternal side. Public trees which you can see do not necessarily have to have the match as the home person or even be the match’s tree.

Shared Matches on AncestryDNA

When I looked at the Shared Matches (SM) with all the notes open, I saw a pattern which indicated the match was coming from a particular line. Right off I could tell she is a paternal match for my brother. I use an emoji of a bride for maternal matches, a groom for paternal matches, and a leaf for Shared Ancestor Hints (SAH). The groom was showing up in many of the notes for the Shared Matches.

1st and 3rd cousin shared matches
Shared 4th cousin matches (1 thru 4)
Shared 4th cousin matches (5 thru 8)
Shared 4th cousin matches (9 thru 13)
  • The first cousin is a paternal match, i.e. points to DEMPSEY or ROOP. There are no shared matches with second cousins. The two 3C matches are cousins who share Alexander CLONCH, who was the grandfather of my paternal grandmother, Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
  • The first two matches in the 4th cousin category have Alexander CLONCH as the MRCA or most recent common ancestor. The next two have William CLONCH and Mary “Polly” DOSS, Alexander’s parents.
  • The next four 4C matches have as MRCA, the CLONCH-DOSS couple or Alexander CLONCH.
  • The next four of five 4C matches have the CLONCH-DOSS couple as the MRCA. One match has no tree and their name is not familiar to me. However, this test has a match with a cousin who also shares the CLONCH-DOSS couple as the MRCA.

There are 22 more predicted 4C shared matches (Possible range: 4th – 6th cousins). Nearly half of these do not include trees and an MRCA has not been determined. Seven have the CLONCH-DOSS couple. One match is a double 4C1R through Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY (parents of William) AND through Levina DOSS (mother of Polly DOSS) – which will make for interesting chromosome comparisons. Four matches are at least 5C1R and have Jeremiah CLAUNCH (father of Dennis) as the MRCA.

Taking a Look at The Big Picture

Viewing the shared matches’ notes at the same time makes this part of “guessing” where the match may be sharing DNA much easier. In this case, I was able to assume she must have a connection to Martha Angeline CLONCH, a daughter of Thomas Eli CLONCH and granddaughter of William CLONCH and Polly DOSS. This may not be obvious from the above notes. I have access to one of Martha Angeline’s descendant’s tests (one of the shared matches above) who is a much higher 3C match to this lady. The Shared Matches he has also point to this area of the family tree.

And Then A Tree Was Linked

Now for the ta-dah moment. Early in July while checking out the DNA matches I noticed the match now had a tree attached. She’s on the first page (top 50 matches) with 60 cMs on 4 segments which made it easy to spot when all notes are open. Skimming through the notes I notice when a match who had No Family Tree or a Private Tree in mention in their notes are now showing an attached family tree. When I viewed the public tree she’d linked to her DNA results I saw it included her paternal side which was missing in the public tree I had viewed.

Cropped screenshot of her tree in the area I suspect the match.

Who did I see as her great-grandfather? Thomas Eli CLONCH, the son of William and Polly and the father of Martha Angeline. Her grandmother Fanny was Martha’s sister. Her great-grandfather Thomas Eli was my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH’s brother.

Can you imagine my excitement [insert genealogy happy dance here] at finding our match is exactly where I thought it would be? I shortened the note to read: 60 cMs 4 segs. 3C1R thru William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS. MRCA found 9 July 2018. Need to follow up with a message.

I sent a message on July 22 including the link to my post, Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? and received a reply less than 48 hours later followed quickly by a second with her Gedmatch kit number. She matches known cousins descended from the CLONCH-DOSS couple on Gedmatch on chromosomes and segments which can now be attributed to the couple.

We’ve shared a few more messages. She’s given me permission to use her match, without identifying information, as an example. To help others understand how they can use Shared Matches on AncestryDNA – to figure out which part of the family tree the match is coming from or to zoom in on the possible most recent common ancestor.

How This Helps in the Long Run

Rebecca Jane CLONCH is the mother of my paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP.

The fourth cousin shared matches to DNA matches who are related through one of the CLONCH ancestors are going to be the keys to open the doors in several brick walls. Both sets of grandparents of my 2nd great-grandmother Tabitha Ann COOLEY, wife of Alexander CLONCH, are unknown. The father of my 3rd great-grandmother Mary “Polly” DOSS, “wife” of William CLONCH, is also unknown. Matches are also showing up for people who descend from siblings of Dennis CLAUNCH whose mother’s name is unknown.

MedBetterDNA can do more than always show notes. Click here to see more filtering options.

I’d love to hear about the methods you use to help work with your AncestryDNA results. Anything which makes this complicated subject easier is always welcome.

P.S. My apologies to my followers who receive notifications per email. The post was inadvertently published on the day I began writing it instead of the moment I hit the publish button.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back

My AncestryDNA Circles went missing in mid-January. By mid-February, I was no longer being patient waiting for them to return. I sent a message to Ancestry through their Facebook page and received this in reply:

Thanks for reaching out, Cathy. Unfortunately we are experiencing a delay in Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles populating currently. It is taking several weeks for hints and circles to calculate, but we are working on fixing that so it happens much faster. We are very sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime! While we are working on a fix, please let us know if anything changes on your end or you come across any other issues!

Why did my AncestryDNA Circles go missing?

I know it takes a while for Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles to appear when you link a tree to your AncestryDNA test. There are many different reasons why they don’t show up or why they disappear. In my case, I knew they should be there and they simply weren’t. Personally, I thought a delay in Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles populating was caused by users who changed their trees too often. How much data can Ancestry handle?

I’ve had two different trees attached to the test I manage since June 2016. The first was for only direct ancestors. The second was my full tree and I had linked it in November 2017 in hopes of hearing from more matches.
Between Christmas and the New Year while doing location comparisons I noticed an anomaly.  People born in Luxembourg were showing up in Utah and a Maryland born person was in Bermuda. My Susanna FEILEN, born in Germany, was showing up in Louisiana. This sent up a red flag as I don’t have any ancestors born in Utah, Lousiana, or Bermuda.

This is how Susanna FEILEN’s birth location is in my tree on Ancestry.

The places were entered correctly in my tree however on the DNA page they were not the place they should be.

This is how Susanna’s birthplace was seen in my tree on the AncestryDNA page.

This meant matches were seeing incorrect information in my tree. How could matches take me seriously when there was such a mess showing in the tree linked to the DNA test I manage? Half of our ancestors were born in Europe and many of these were showing up as born in the USA. I suspect (in my opinion) Ancestry was using some kind of location identifier which converted places when the tree was linked to the DNA test.

Hoping it was only a glitch on the AncestryDNA site, I waited a few weeks for it to fix itself. That didn’t happen and in mid-January, I decided to go back to the original tree with only direct ancestors. This fixed the location problem.

While my Shared Ancestors Hints remained the same, my DNA Circles, previously between 28-30, disappeared. I knew by linking a new tree I would reset Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles. It would take a few days for things to get back to normal. I waited and waited.

A month after I linked the tree I still did not have DNA Circles. That’s when I reached out to Ancestry the first time and was told about the delay.

Three weeks later the DNA Circles were still missing and I wrote several more messages to Ancestry. Shared Ancestor Hints were still growing and the missing Circles were taking far too long, in my opinion, to populate. I suspected my tree was just stuck in some kind of never-never-land and asked if perhaps by linking it again the problem might be solved.

We’re very sorry for the delay Cathy. We do not advise to unlink and relink your tree since this will remove any shared ancestor hints and it may take time to populate them again (if they are following all the requirements).

At this point, I was not a happy Ancestry client. I knew other people were complaining and I let Ancestry know my dissatisfaction. I was given a free month’s subscription to be taken when I wish. This is appreciated but I would much rather have my Circles back.

Our developers are aware of issues with the DNA circles and are working to get them out of beta. Until such time, there will be irregularities with their behavior. We apologize for this and ask for your patience and understanding.

What I did to get my missing DNA Circles back

Earlier this month I went through each of my Shared Ancestor Hints and added the information to the Notes available for matches. I added SAH and the information about the relationship and the ancestor. I also included an emoji leaf 🍃. At the same time, I also added emojis for paternal 🤵 and maternal 👰 matches.

My patience had run out. I was preparing to do what Ancestry said I should NOT do.

I finished adding notes to all of the 412 matches with Shared Ancestry Hints on Thursday evening. Then I went into Settings and clicked on the X to unlink the tree. I waited 3 seconds and linked the same tree again.

Over the weekend I did not have time to check on AncestryDNA. On Monday morning I found 23 DNA Circles!

My re-linking the same tree triggered the change I was hoping for. My DNA Circles are back after nearly three months and my Shared Ancestor Hints did not disappear. Nine new ones came in over the weekend when they normally just trickle in one at a time.

Please take note that Ancestry does not recommend unlinking and linking your tree again. I took the chance and it worked. Perhaps Ancestry got the problem fixed at the same time I risked losing my Shared Ancestor Hints in favor of the DNA Circles.

Now I am going to go in and tag all of the matches who are in the Circles and make a note of the people who are in the Circles but don’t share DNA with the test I manage. Just in case they disappear again.

You may also wish to read the following DNA related posts:

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Fourth Blogiversary!

If it were not for Amy Johnson Crow and her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge I may not have started blogging in 2014. During my first year, I wrote about my American ancestors on the paternal side of my family tree. In 2015 I wrote about my children’s European ancestors, from their grandparents to their 4th great-grandparents and continued with their 5th great-grandparents in 2017. In my last post, I finished the endeavor just in time to celebrate my 4th Blogiversary.

Four years! Sometimes it seems like yesterday and then it feels like I’ve been blogging forever. 2017 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2018 took care of the statistics for the past year but I left my readers hanging with the What’s Coming in 2018 question.

Although the majority of my articles have been about the ancestors, visitors to my blog have been interested in other content.

All-Time Top Posts and Pages

6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison
James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can – page
52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R – Kesiah LIVELY
How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes
Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1
Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch
About Cathy Meder-Dempsey – page
Using the Back Door at FamilySearch for Missing Records
52 Ancestors: #36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845

Top posts show people are being drawn to my blog for the how-to posts: DNA and FamilySearch. My About page, which I hope everyone visits, was updated in November 2017. James SIMS is on the list twice and – his son-in-law William JOHNSON Jr. just made it into the top 10.

What projects do I have for 2018?

Continuing Themes and Tying up Loose Ends

The Slave Name Roll Project posts will continue in 2018.

The Old Photographs Saved from Trash Can series came to an end after the last nine posts in January through March 2017. A final post, a synopsis of the family connections made during the process of writing about each of the over 150 photos was pushed off to the back burner but not forgotten. I want to get this done during the year. I have this mind mapping idea to show the connections using text and images but still working on the how to do it.

Spring Cleaning

A New Look for Opening Doors in Brick Walls in December 2016 brought a fresher look to my blog. Unfortunately, with all the research for the posts in 2017, I did not find the time to go through and fix formatting which didn’t conform to the new theme. I want to go through the old posts, fix images (too large, not centered), add footnotes to early work, add Genealogy Sketch boxes to the ancestors’ stories, and fix links in earlier posts. I am always linking back to older posts but sometimes forget old posts can also be linked forward to new content.

I’m hoping to come up with a few ideas for future posts when I check and fix the older posts.

In my last post 52 Ancestors: #47 Michel Trausch and Catharina Hames of Mamer I started using Markdown to format footnotes. This is going to be a real timesaver in future posts. I plan to go back and re-do the ones in previous posts.

DNA Discoveries

I’ve managed my brother’s DNA on Ancestry for a little over a year and a half. I’m not in the league with the genetic genealogists but I think I’m grasping it better by reading as much as possible. For the past six months a few hours a week, I’ve been setting up profiles and importing chromosome data to Genome Mate Pro. Going slow and getting it done right the first time.

So far it looks like the family tree data is matching up with the DNA results. I’m still waiting to make an earth-shattering discovery in my tree – and not in someone else’s. Why is it so easy to see the connection when it’s not your own tree? I’m not committing but I hope there will be a few DNA discoveries I can write about during the year.

Evergreen Content to be Updated

For nearly 18 years the SIMS family has fascinated me. I worked with a group of SIMS descendants in 2001-2002 per email. Everyone shared their information, photos, and documents. The result was the biography of James SIMS, Pioneer of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, written in early 2002 with a revision in 2013. The original version has been attached to hundreds of trees on Ancestry.com.

James SIMS was the only child of Jeremiah SIMS of Culpeper County, Virginia. Many family historians have tried to prove the parents of Jeremiah were Thomas SIMS and Rebecca PETTY. But not Rose Mary Sims Rudy, one of the original members of the SIMS research group, who sent me 25 pounds of books and papers several years ago. It’s time to go through the research material to see what may have been overlooked. It’s also time to lay out and test a hypothesis Rose Mary shared with me concerning the ancestry of Jeremiah SIMS.

This should get me through the year.

Thank you to all my followers for the visits, views, likes, and encouraging comments that motivate me to continue.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes

Last week I wrote about the six things I include in the notes on AncestryDNA for each of my brother’s DNA matches. With matches for hundreds of 4th cousins or closer and thousands of distant cousins on AncestryDNA, I needed a simple but efficient method of working through and sorting his matches.

As you can imagine I don’t have notes for every match. There are so many matches with no trees attached and I have become choosy about which ones I add notes to. Close matches and shared matches have priority.

When I’m on the results page or viewing shared matches I click on the notes icon to open up the information I have on the match. There is no need to go through several clicks to get to the information as described in my post last week.

A note opened on the results page

When I’m viewing Shared Matches and they don’t have notes, I take a moment to add the cMs/segs and the other 5 things I add to notes when accessible.

Chrome and AncestryDNA Helper

Although Google Chrome isn’t my default browser I’ve added it to my list of tools along with the web browser extension AncestryDNA Helper. It adds extra functionality to the AncestryDNA site. A warning if you are not familiar with this extension. There are known issues of the extension not always working. Very often I have to close the browser and open it again to get the extension to work. This workaround, as well as several others, are mentioned here:  Welcome To AncestryDNA Helper Extension Website

AncestryDNA Helper Extension Update: March 13, 2018. First volume of new User Guide by Bob Pittman, Installation and Scanning

Search box feature in Chrome’s AncestryDNA Helper extension

The extension has a feature which allows you to search for users, surnames, and notes. I use it to manage my notes. For sorting through my DNA matches, in Chrome, I click on View all Matches. The search box feature (circled in yellow above), found above Ancestry’s filters for Hints, New, and Starred, is what I use search the text in all notes.

In this example, the search feature generated a complete list of all notes which include the name William Henderson Dempsey.

I can search for surnames in the notes, messages sent, or kit numbers. When I search for the term cMs a complete list of all matches with notes is generated. This is the consistency I mentioned in my post last week. Each match has different notes but cMs is the one word which is used in all notes.

The success rate of contacting matches through Ancestry’s message service has been low for me! I would like for people who share DNA with my brother to upload their raw DNA to GEDmatch so that I can use the tools on the site to compare the results. While I wait, this is the method I use for working through and sorting my brother’s DNA matches.

How are you sorting through your DNA matches? Have you been more successful getting replies to messages? Please leave a comment below. I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison

With matches for hundreds of 4th cousins or closer and thousands of distant cousins on AncestryDNA, I needed a simple but efficient method of working through and sorting my brother’s DNA matches. A spreadsheet in Excel was not an option as I wanted something I could refer to while on site.

Reducing the Clicks on AncestryDNA

To find out more about an AncestryDNA match you have to click on View Match.

ancestrydna1
AncestryDNA Results for my brother A.D.

This takes you to a new page with your match’s name, ethnicity, predicted relationship, and DNA Circle connections (when available) at the top.

ancestrydna2
Match’s DNA Profile

To see the amount of Shared DNA you click on the little i.

ancestrydna3
Amount of Shared DNA

At this point, to avoid having to repeatedly go through these extra clicks, I add the following information to Add note. The note, limited to 500 characters, can be added to each match.

1. Amount of Shared DNA

The first item I include is the amount of shared DNA. I shorten “245 centimorgans shared across 10 DNA segments” to “245 cMs 10 segs.” Consistency is important as will be seen in my follow-up post next week.

ancestrydna42. Proven or Assumed Relationships

If I can determine the relationship to the match I add, for example, 2C1R instead of 2nd cousin once removed, and the common ancestor(s).

ancestrydna5
Check Shared Matches

In this example, H.L. had a public tree (not a tree attached to her DNA) with 7 people. By checking the Shared Matches and the tiny tree I was able to figure out the relationship. There were 51 shared matches – two 2nd cousins, three 3rd cousins, and 46 4th cousins. Many had scanty trees, no family trees, or private trees. The top shared matches suggested a Dempsey connection, a name seen for 2 of the 7 persons in H.L.’s tree.

3. Match’s Member Profile

I administer my brother’s DNA results and have access and editing rights to a more distant cousin’s DNA. He is in the 5th-8th cousins range and does not show up on the Shared Matches which is only available to the 4th cousin level. Ancestry has a feature which shows matches to tests you administer or have editing rights to. Click on the match’s name to View Member Profile. Below the profile photo and description is a box titled AncestryDNA.

ancestrydna8
AncestryDNA box on Member Profile page

I have not had my DNA tested and therefore this person is not on my DNA Match list. But when I click on your the two tests I have rights to can be checked. Surprisingly, in this example, both tests I admin are matches to H.L. This does not mean all three match the same ancestor.

I add to the note that there is possibly another connection. My brother’s match to H.L. may include DNA from our paternal grandmother’s side through the CLONCH or DOSS lines as well as DNA from our paternal grandfather’s side.

4. Date Message Was Sent/Received

When I contact a match I include the date the message was sent in the note. As replies or queries come in I note the date a message is received.

5. Date Results Were Viewed

If a match doesn’t have a tree or it is private, I make a note of this with the date viewed. This way if a tree is added later I will know it hasn’t been checked.

6. Match Name and Kit Numbers

If the match has shared his/her name, GEDmatch and/or FamilyTreeDna kit numbers, I include these in the note.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite use of the notes feature. What information do you include in your notes on AncestryDNA? Next week I’ll share how I use the notes on AncestryDNA and how I manage them.

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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